On lap 121 of Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, a cable supporting an overhead camera snapped and fell across the track. Ten fans were injured, three hospitalized, and the race was red-flagged for nearly a half-hour after several cars were damaged. It could have been much worse, and the eyewitness video is terrifying.
Taken from Turn 1, this video shows the moment (0:33) the cable went slack. There was just enough time to realize what had happened before the pack tore past the first time.
Geoffrey Miller, a Yahoo contributor, shares the scene in the grandstand as fans attempted to alert officials:
The cars raced toward us on the frontstretch, I grabbed my dad's shoulder, pulled him down and we ducked between the seats.
After the field roared by, we stood up and joined the growing frenzy around us desperately waving and yelling to draw the attention of someone – anyone – who could bring the race to a halt.
No officials seemed to notice. Several fans tossed beers and other items toward the track, hoping the splashes would gain notice.
Still, a second time, the field raced towards us. Fans below us desperately yanked the cord from the track while others scurried out of the way or just simply ducked. Sections of fans all around us continued to holler.
You can see the panic in the video: fans waving, yelling, trying to haul the cable away from the track. Everyone ducks for cover as the pack comes around a second time (1:09), and this time it's struck by the cars, causing the damage and injuries. The caution flag came out almost immediately after.
The cause of the cable's collapse is still under investigation. The rope, one of three connected to the camera above the speedway, is made of Dyneema, a synthetic polymer with a yield strength comparable to that of steel, at a fraction of the weight. Its breaking point is certified 9,300 pounds; Fox said the cable shouldn't have faced weights above of 900 pounds. The overhead camera has been in place in Charlotte since June 2012.